Business owners say super pylons 'threaten future of countryside'

Almost 50 landowners are prepared to challenge compulsory purchase orders in the courts as SSEN's £480m project gets under way.

Owners of long established businesses say they will reluctantly quit the area if powerline and power station proposals impact them as much as they fear.

Electricity firm SSEN says new lines from the Northern Isles, Western Isles and Skye are essential to help meet UK and Scottish Government targets for renewable energy.

Almost 50 landowners in the north now say they will challenge compulsory purchase orders in the courts if verbal warnings already issued become a reality.

Among business people pondering his future is Kilmorack art gallery owner Tony Davidson, who has built up the venture over several decades.

Drawing an analogy of pylon lines spreading like a spider’s web, he dreads the prospect of more transmission lines and bigger substations in the area.

Asked what he thought the solution might be, he suggested producing power more locally “close to where it’s needed.”

An Aberdeenshire family is urging the firm to take the cables offshore, fearing the loss of their long established farm if a nearby substation goes ahead.

Turriff farmer Shona Alexander said: “It’s going to have a huge impact. It’s going to take away a third of our family farm.

“It’s going to make the farm here unviable and obviously the noise, while it’s under construction, it’s going to be absolutely awful.”

She added: “Two of our neighbours could potentially lose their homes. They’ve already been told that if it goes ahead their houses will be compulsorily purchased as well if they have to be and the houses will actually be demolished.”

A Highlander who has spent 30 years rewilding the land surrounding his hillside home is horrified by the prospect of the property becoming encircled by powerlines.

Former oil worker Ron McLaughlin said: “Everything I’ve worked for could be totally devastated by them bringing the powerline over the top and creating this sterilised zone beneath the powerlines, basically devastating all the trees that I have planted in that area.”

SSEN spokesman Greg Clarke said: “We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously.

“We’re committed to delivering biodiversity net gain on all our projects, leaving local biodiversity in a better place than we found it.

“And we will also do everything we can to sensitively locate our infrastructure to minimise and mitigate environmental and community impacts.”

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